On Tuesday, the fifth of February, the Berkshire chapter of the Sunshine Movement held a casual viewing of a Green New Deal discussion. Composed of various chapters, the Sunrise Movement spans the entire length of the nation and has devoted itself to “stop climate change and create millions of good paying jobs across the nation.” Sunrise implements the increasingly common practice of spreading awareness through social media and various forms of community outreach. By distributing power equally among the organizations members, the Sunrise Movement markets itself as completely democratic.
Although there is no advertised hierarchy, the Movement in no way rejects opportune leadership. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sunrise’s chief source of political power, illustrates the groups shared ideology. Although embracing political non-partisanship, it subscribes to traditional leftist politics. Favoring no demographic, significant emphasis is placed on the marketing in an unbiased way to all in favor of immediate environmental action. By operating within various different communities, the Sunshine Organization can easily maintain influence, yet, easily falls into disorganization.
Without supplementary knowledge, the vast array of empty seats on the night of the screening might be disheartening.
Understandably, in an academically rigorous environment, attending an environmental screening fails to draw valid attention. It’s no secret that Simon's Rock provides a difficult scholastic commitment, and it’s typically difficult to diverge time necessary for homework. Attendance was primarily composed of local Great Barrington residents, members of the Sunrise Club who had connections to the school.
Naively, I maintained hope that in a politically leftist environment like Bard, a Green New Deal screening would entail a mad, rapture esque climate. With various teenagers clinging to the walls, heroes saving the world from potential catastrophe, but again, this was merely fantasy. From sea to shining sea, environmental crisis consistently fails to entice mass appeal. And, in all actuality, if I didn't have an obligation to The CAD, I would have spent my time elsewhere.
Regardless, I was in attendance, and at eight, the scheduled event commenced. Via a facetime service capable of multiple devices, the live stream began with the introduction of three prominent Sunrise Movement representatives: Aru Shiney Jay, Jacob Orbenstien, and Naomi Klein.
A particularly important aspect noted was the oblivious actions of the speakers. Speaking over impressively horrendous connection, the representatives spent a majority of allowed time struggling to locate various volume commands. At distinct points of key debate, there would be difficulties with rogue musings or a drastic, unprecedented increase in volume. A speaker would forget to unmute their microphone, speaking to deaf audiences. Or, as with a pinnacle moment of the screening, a specific member would illustrate complete contradiction, as, and again, I am in no way fabricating events, Aru Shiney Jay reached for a plastic water bottle. But, I assume there was merit to this. Environmental policy is strenuous, and I’d imagine quick, disposable hydration could ease the incessant stress.
Accompanied by a dearth of concrete solution, nuances like rhetoric and exhibition become key observances. Not only did the screening introduce abstract plans, these established hopes were rooted in common knowledge. At its most ambitious, the screening was merely preaching to the choir. No matter the individual enthusiasm (Jacob Orbenstien was inspirationally hopeful), the overall message was dismal: climate change is still the backseat issue of major platform politics.
No matter how pressing the issue, regardless of the perceived consequences, the vague and abstract catastrophes of the future fail to exploit the present populous’ capacity for fear. Even in situations where environmental policy takes priority, the rhetoric and specifics fail to demand serious attention.
The Sunshine Movement screening provided an apt example of both issues. Drawing meager numbers (live screens barely reaching 1,000), the movement does not have enough influence to make critical changes. Introduction of radical environmental reform is necessary, but without a vast army of supporters, ideal remains ideal. Currently, the voting population of America focus, understandably, on contemporary issues, issues with more easily perceived negative implications.
This should not be so. The impending climate doom is universal and fatally catastrophic. Action is needed, and although the Sunrise Movement is riddled with flaws, a first step has been taken. Within the dark tunnel of darkness, a dim, barely perceptible ray of sunlight reigns.
Luke is the Director of Current Events for The Cad.